Time to Take #ESNchat to the Next Level!

Posted: September 24, 2014 in #ESNchat
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ESNchat-smallI’m very pleased to announce that as of Thursday, October 2, 2014 the good people at The Community Roundtable will take over ownership of my weekly Twitter chat #ESNchat. Some of the great benefits to the #ESNchat community will include the ability for @TheCR to have multiple people involved with leadership of the chat, more extensive promotional efforts behind it than I personally have been able to provide, expertise from years of research and organizing conversations between community practitioners, and a much broader network of practitioners and enthusiasts than I bring to the table, while still maintaining the ESN vendor-neutral position that has been so important to the success of #ESNchat. We got a taste last week in my absence of how well TheCR’s Hillary Boucher can host a chat, so we will all benefit from more of Hillary’s leadership along with others from TheCR.

This has been a great journey for me that began in the summer of 2013 when I started searching for a free online gathering place for Enterprise Social Networking (ESN) practitioners, vendors and enthusiasts. While there were some closed communities provided for those who use specific vendors, I wanted more than that in order to help nudge the industry forward. There needed to be a place where anyone using any platform could meet with others and discuss specific ESN topics of interest, learning from each other and building up a repository of content that could help many others along the way. Therefore, #ESNchat was born September 12, 2013.

Since its inception we’ve had about 230 wonderful people take part in the chats, currently averaging about 30-40 participants per week sharing hundreds of tweets each chat. Each week sees us adding a few new people. Some participants on the other side of the globe even ended up spawning a new chat of their own at a time more convenient to them. I’ve met an incredible network of people from whom I have learned much and will continue to learn from in the years ahead.

But I’m just one person who has been doing this in his free time outside of work and all my other volunteer activities. It may not seem like much of a time commitment to host a one-hour chat weekly, but there is a lot more that goes into it than meets the eye with planning topics, securing featured guests, archiving chats, sending reminders out about coming chats and posted archives, other ongoing promotional efforts, plus the other residual impact of requests for interviews, consulting, speaking engagements, etc. – all of which I love, of course, but which tends to cut into time which should usually be devoted to other things. I never got around, for example, to working with chat participants to co-author an ESN Handbook we discussed earlier in the year due to sheer limitation of time for more #ESNchat work than I was already doing.

Additionally, my role at work has recently expanded to not just be the community manager for our ESN, but to lead a small team of community managers who also have responsibility for our external social media, plus I’m now working with internal lines of business to consult with them as they stand up external online communities for their focused audiences. My work focus, therefore, is shifting more to community management for internal and external communities as well as launching new external-facing communities while still continuing to manage our ESN. As such, I don’t feel like it’s appropriate for me to devote so many hours per week purely to leading #ESNchat when ESNs are no longer my sole focus at work.

Since TheCR will be able to share the load of all that needs to be done among multiple people, I feel better about their ownership of it going forward. That’s why I approached them with the idea last month. I’ve been a member of TheCR for years and am continually impressed with the quality of their people and all they do. While they, of course, have paid membership (which I recommend) for those who want those benefits, #ESNchat participation will remain freely available to all as any Twitter chat should be.

Here’s what to expect over the next couple of weeks:

  • I’ll still host the chat on September 25 as I usually do. The topic will be Favorite ESN Resources.
  • Hillary Boucher and others from TheCR will co-host with me the chat on October 2 as we take a look back at what has transpired in #ESNchat to date and consider where we all want it to go in the future.
  • My final role as host will be at the end of the October 2 chat, after which TheCR will immediately assume ownership.
  • We will communicate with participants as soon as we can about the location of resources like chat archives and any website information about the chat. Related to that, I’ll be transferring ownership of the esnchat.com domain for them to use as they see fit. It currently points to a section of my blog, but that will change soon.
  • I have no plans to remove the existing chat archive links from my blog or to change the availability of the Storify archives from my account there, although I will not continue to personally archive future chats after the handoff to TheCR. They will assume that task as they see fit.
  • I want to create an ebook PDF compilation of all the chat archives from September 12, 2013 through October 2, 2014 that I will make freely available to all once it is complete. That will be a nice way to package up and give away my gift of a year’s ESN content to this wonderful community.

I cannot thank enough those of you who have come into my life over the past year as a result of #ESNchat. I started the chat solely to try to nudge the industry forward and I think in a small way we’re doing exactly that. I’m grateful for the speaking and other opportunities my role in the endeavor has provided, but those, too, take time that I ought to be devoting elsewhere. The journey has been amazing.

I’m not going away, though! I’ll still be a regular participant as a practitioner and… well… a proud papa can’t just walk away from his baby! So thank you to my faithful #ESNchat friends for making every Thursday from 2-3pm EDT one of my favorite hours of each and every week. Continue with me as active participants in what I know will be a great second year for #ESNchat under new leadership. Let’s all do what we can to keep moving the needle in the right direction so that enterprise social networking grows and makes the significant business impact for our companies and organizations that we all know is possible with this great form of communication.

You can read TheCR’s post about this development here. Onward and upward!

Top 10 ListI periodically update the Top 10 Posts list on this blog. It’s interesting to see what clicks with people and what seems to develop a life of its own without any promotional efforts behind it. Here is the list of the 10 most-viewed blog posts out of the 600+ I’ve published over the past 3.5 years in order of the most viewed:

1. My First Week With a Fitbit Flex - This was published a year ago and consistently has received more views monthly than any other for a long while. I was approached about placing advertising on the page because of the hits, but I don’t want ads on my blog, so I turned it down. I still wear the Flex faithfully. Doing so has transformed my daily activity, nutrition and sleep monitoring.

2. Throw a Plate On the Ground – This is a short, simple post about the lasting impact of hurting others.

3. The Worst Mistakes I’ve Made As An Employee – People always like to read about the faults of others. Perhaps some can learn from what I’ve done poorly.

4. What I Appreciate Most in Coworkers – It’s nice to find good in others and call it out. I’ve had some wonderful people to enjoy working with through the years and I appreciate them so much.

5. When Does Busy Become Too Busy? – I hope someday to actually learn this lesson that I keep preaching about.

6. Trust – This is an oldie from 2011. It’s hard to believe it still gets views. Trust is always relevant, though.

7. Lessons From My First Daddy-Doggie Date Day – The relationship I have with my dog, Callie, is different than I’ve ever had with a dog in 57 years of living. Every day is special with her, but this was a day set aside especially for her.

8. Book Review: “I Am a Church member” by Thom Rainer – Thom Rainer was a seminary colleague of mine at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in the 1980s. My wife typed up his PhD dissertation on our original 30-pound IBM “Portable” PC. He is now president and CEO of Lifeway Christian Resources and does amazing work. This is a great little book that serves as a good reminder to church members about what we are (and are not) to be about as church members.

9. Deciding When to Leave Your Job – A few things that guide my thoughts during times of significant work transition.

10. Rethink Routine – This is one of five corporate values espoused by my employer – a very worthy value for corporations and individuals.

Many thanks to all the readers of this blog. I love hearing your comments and encourage you to add them to any and all posts of interest. Thanks for letting me share my personal and professional life with you in this way.

keep-calm-and-finish-strongI’ve been very goal oriented the past two years in publishing on this blog very specific goals in the categories of body, mind and spirit. The goals for 2013 were many and I was glad to accomplish nearly all of them. I started down a similar path at the beginning of 2014, but soon felt burdened by so many time-consuming goals outside of work and volunteer endeavors. By my March update I had reduced the goals a little bit, and by May I had decided to take a few months off from a couple of them entirely. My brain and my spirit needed a rest from the physical activity goals more than my body did. I still continued work on most of the goals, but filed a couple under “not gonna happen” and went on with life.

Now that we’re in the final third of the year and the end is in sight, I’m back in gear and ready to finish out the year completing those goals that are most important and putting aside officially those that aren’t. I’m already looking forward to a very different approach in 2015 which will not  have me listing all kinds of goals for body, mind and spirit. I’ll talk more about what it will include when the time comes.

With that background, here is where I stand with the original goals for 2014 and what my plan is to close out the year with each:

BODY

  • Average at least 10,000 steps per day every week. After taking the second quarter off from this, I’m back on track. My company has a 100 Day Dash going on right now until late November where we’re on teams recording and tracking steps daily. My goal for these 100 days is to never get less than 11,000 steps per day and so far I’ve done that. I’ll end the year strong and will keep at this pace until I reach our company’s top rewards program level which should happen around the end of the year.
  • Do a stretching routine daily. I started the year doing this faithfully but took a break after hurting my back. I never got back into the routine and don’t intend to for now. I’ll stretch before and after running, but not otherwise.
  • Run 365 miles for the year. I haven’t run 10 miles this year. I walk 5-6 miles a day between work and walking the dog, but I just haven’t gotten back into running. This goal will not be met. Walking will have to be good enough.
  • Average 7.5 hours of sleep a night. My average is more like 6.5 hours per night year to date. That isn’t enough. My body is calling for more and I have to find a way to make it happen. Of course, the 6.5 is more than years past, but I need more than years past.
  • Average no more than 45 hours per week for work. For the first year in the 11+ I’ve had with my company where I’ve tracked hours, I’m actually staying within the 45 per week limit. I’ve learned to adjust some things and manage my days differently to get to this point.

MIND

  • Author or co-author a book related to enterprise social networks. Now that we just completed the first year of the weekly Twitter chat I lead on enterprise social networks – #ESNchat – I’m planning on putting together a free e-book PDF that contains the first year’s chat archives plus a little background info on the experience. It’s the one and only book I’ll be responsible for this year, but I’m pretty proud of what it should be.
  • Write 100 blog posts. Earlier in the year I changed this goal to average one post per week instead of 100 for the year. Making that goal should not be a problem.
  • Set up Pinterest boards and pins to coincide with my blog categories and posts. In the interest of time, I abandoned this goal earlier in the year.
  • Reserve at least one hour per day for unstructured, unplanned time not related to any tasks or goals. I don’t track this and I know I don’t always accomplish it either, but I’m certain I’ve been better about allowing myself guilt-free free time this year. There is still room for improvement here, though.

SPIRIT

  • Finish reading The Apologetics Study Bible. I should be able to do this just fine. I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I’ve read Genesis – Isaiah so far, taking this one in order cover to cover.
  • Read these three major theology books: (1) Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem, (2) Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine by Gregg Allison, and (3) Theology of the Reformers by Timothy George. To date I’ve completed the third book and am about 2/3 through the first one. I should be able to complete this goal as planned. I have to say that Grudem’s book is one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read. I’ve love to take part in or lead a one-year study of the contents of this book with a group of people.
  • Have a daily Bible reading and devotional time. I’ve missed days from time to time which is disappointing. Nothing should crowd this from my schedule. There is really no excuse for that. I must do better.

So there you have my goal update for mid-September 2014 – on track with some things, abandoned a few and modified others. At least I’m in that mode now of seeing the finish line for the year ahead of me and I’m working hard at a number of the goals to finish strong those that are most important.

What about you? How are you coming on what you set out to accomplish this year?

 

ShiftInDirectionIt is with pleasure and a healthy amount of reservation that I announce a change in my career focus at work. For the past several years I have been primarily focused on growing and managing our company’s enterprise social network (ESN). This has been a tremendous joy for me and one that I will continue to lead for a while to come. To have the opportunity to play a part in changing the way a Fortune 100 company communicates internally has been a wonderful challenge. We’ve made a lot of progress, but still have a long way to go. Big ships don’t turn around quickly.

Along the way, we’ve seen a growing interest in the potential of online communities outside the company. Several lines of business within the organization recognize the potential of online communities for their constituencies. This value is not just from the standpoint of how the business might benefit, but because of the value of community and relationships in helping achieve the community members’ own goals related to health, well-being and other aspects of life.

It is because of this growing trend toward online communities and the need for effective community management of such communities that I am happy to see my role recently expand to include consulting with lines of business and managing our current and growing team of community managers. In a nutshell, my focus now shifts from internal social networking to building online communities of all types, providing the most effective community management and business results possible.

Community management has long been a tremendous passion, of course, in my role as community manager of our ESN. This shift will allow me to dive deeper into the profession not just for myself but for those people I supervise and others with whom I consult. It is a welcome enhancement to my role.

One of the things I appreciate about my company is the opportunity to reinvent oneself from time to time. Being an employee isn’t just about doing what makes the employee happy, though. It is about matching the right person to a role in such a way that the person is effective and fulfilled while also providing the greatest possible benefit to the company. I might have been quite content continuing in my ESN focus for a long while to come, but I think I can do more for my company in coming years in this new capacity. It’s not about me in a company of 50,000+ employees; it’s about what is best for the business and the customers we serve.

Coming weeks and months will reveal more about what this change means, including ownership and leadership of the weekly Twitter #ESNchat I founded a year ago. I will soon hand that off to an excellent professional organization equipped to take to it to new level of effectiveness. You’ll hear more in coming weeks about that.

One final note… I don’t believe much in coincidences. Some of you are aware that I occasionally spend a week of quiet solitude and reflection at a monastery in Kentucky. My last such week was in early July. I came away from that week feeling like I was ready for a change, although I didn’t really know what that change might look like. So I do not consider it a coincidence that the very first day back to work after that retreat was the day my manager approached me about this possible role change. After a few days of pondering it, I was ready to make it happen. That is, in fact, the second time in five years that a desire for a role change has taken flight the very day I returned to work following my “Monk Week” retreat of Bible study, prayer, listening and reflection. That is not a coincidence.

I am grateful for new opportunities, for an employer who allows and encourages them, for a superb manager whom I greatly respect, and for good people to work with who make each day a pleasure.

Onward and upward…

HeavenIsForRealI watched the movie Heaven is for Real Friday night. I have not read the book like some others in my family have. I knew about the story line of a young boy, the son of a pastor, who has a near-death experience and then stuns his family and others with descriptions of what he saw while on the operating table. My wife tells me the movie followed very closely the book, so I assume that to be true.

Having read several mixed reviews of the movie months ago when it was released, and having read or heard the positive reactions of friends and family to the book and/or the movie, I entered into watching it with mixed expectations. I feared that even though the overall movie was positive, uplifting and affirming of the eternal realities of my Christian faith, it would lack in some significant ways in terms of the completeness of the message delivered – especially theologically – which is critically important.

To perhaps oversimplify my reaction to the movie, here are some quick thoughts about it – first three positives and then three more substantial negatives:

The Positives:

  1. Watching a movie on this subject is far better than watching so many others that fill the big screen that are littered with violence, foul language, gratuitous sex and nothing of any real redeeming value.
  2. The movie can serve as a discussion starter about the idea or reality of heaven and what must happen in this life in order to live in heaven for eternity.
  3. The movie is based on a true story which can (but doesn’t necessarily) lend credence to the experience.

The Negatives:

  1. There was a gigantic missed opportunity in that the movie asserts that heaven is for real, yet it never presents the basics of the Christian gospel message which answers the question of how one gets to heaven. So the message becomes, “Yes, heaven is for real, and I sure hope you figure out how to get there because we’re not telling you in this movie.”
  2. The one authoritative source of information about heaven is the Bible. We can be assured that whatever the Bible says of heaven is true, and we cannot be certain about any other beliefs about which the Bible is silent. I choose only to believe with certainty what the scriptures teach about heaven, and to take with a grain of salt anything else from other sources.
  3. Neither Christians nor anyone else should give an automatic pass to someone’s near-death or other experience as true just because someone claims to have experienced it. As the psychologist in the movie pointed out, people of different faiths may have very different near-death experiences. Who, then, are you going to believe? It might make for good entertainment, but it isn’t a valid basis for theological belief unless it is supported with scripture. And if anything in one’s “experience” is contrary to what is taught in scripture, then it is to be rejected as false.

HeavenIf you want to know if heaven is for real, and if you are curious about some aspects (though not all) of what it is like, look to the Bible. If you want a very thorough, complete, and well-reasoned look at all that the Bible says about heaven, then read Randy Alcorn’s book Heaven. It is an amazing treatment of every bit of scripture that addresses the topic and will both encourage the reader while also clearing up misconceptions that have their genesis in places other than scripture.

There’s nothing wrong with seeing the movie Heaven is for Real or with reading the book. It is wholesome and far preferable compared to the overwhelming amount of filth produced by Hollywood. But a Christian evaluation of it must begin and end with how it measures up to what the Bible teaches about the subject. We cannot base our faith or theology on what makes us feel good – movie or otherwise.

I may sound like an old curmudgeon who is taking the theological aspect of watching the movie too seriously, and it isn’t my intention to discourage anyone from seeing the movie or reading the book. Just do it alongside the Bible and perhaps Randy Alcorn’s book to make sure that you come away with a clear distinction between what is soundly scriptural and what is unknown this side of heaven. God has revealed in His Word to all of us what He deems important for us to know for the present about heaven. Stories, books and movies that suggest other glimpses may be interesting and thought provoking, but we should not require them to affirm the scripture’s teaching nor to fill in the blanks of what God has yet to make clearly known to all.